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Las Vegas continues its effort to become a ‘smart city’

Las Vegas Technology and Innovation are prepping up a mobile app for a soft launch next this month.

Edz Clarkson

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Las Vegas Smart City

LAS VEGAS — Michael Sherwood, the Director of Technology and Innovation in Las Vegas, said that he wants to make sure the need for new technology in the Las Vegas Innovation District is data-driven before the city doubles down.

“We’re using these technologies and testing them before going out and making a large investment,” said Sherwood.

Las Vegas is currently trial testing a technology such as sensors that send alerts when tin cans are filling up and show where people are jaywalking, and cameras that can pick up things like graffiti or an abandoned backpack on the sidewalk.

He emphasizes that the city of Las Vegas won’t keep individual information on file from data channeled back to the smart city. “We won’t know who jaywalked or ran the red light, just that someone did,” Sherwood added.

The Innovation District, which was unveiled in 2016, is a technological testing ground situated on a large swath of downtown Las Vegas. The city is working with tech firms including Cisco, Hitachi, Motionloft and Numina to test traffic and environmental sensors, cameras and autonomous cars.

The Las Vegas Technology and Innovation chief and his crew are busy these days as they are prepping up a mobile app for a soft launch next this month. The agency is testing state-of-the-art technologies that will funnel wide-ranging data to the city of Las Vegas that ties into traffic management and parking, public safety, the environment as well as autonomous vehicles.

French technology firm Navya took its electric autonomous shuttle out for a 10-day test back in January along the Fremont Street, and another autonomous vehicle test is anticipated to take off downtown in fall. During the pilot testing, the street was closed. On the trial testing, the autonomous vehicle will be tested on a closed course, then likely coexist on the road downtown with other automotive vehicles and people, communicating with the traffic light system.

“This time the idea would be it would move through normal traffic,” city Communications Director David Riggleman said.

Since launching its platform on the Amazon Echo, the city has added several “skills,” enabling residents to seek answers from Alexa regarding parks and community centers, elections and public utility buses, using the phrase “Go Vegas.” It will continue to add queries and functionalities so residents and visitors can interact with the platform using their smartphone, tablet, computer or Amazon Echo, Sherwood said.

The data is being funneled back to a database, but due to this technology has been in place for less than 90 days period in most cases, there is not enough to analyze. When the data is ready to be analyzed, the findings will be presented to the Las Vegas Technology and Innovation and related departments. Should there’s a aspiration to invest and make permanent installations, the City Council will opt to whether to proceed.

Other Las Vegas smart city capabilities in development include an app that lets resident and visitors check how many parking spaces are available in a given area. The department may also consider environmental sensors that can alert the traffic management system when five cars are idling at a red light, and turn the light green faster, Sherwood said.

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